Kansas City might be deemed by some to be a slightly dull or boring town. To this day, much to the chagrin of a large number of its residents, it has maintained a somewhat small-town aura about it.
For a few weeks in late June and early July, however, the city was abuzz in anticipation of the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. There was activity everywhere from downtown to the suburbs as Kansas City prepared to host one of its biggest events ever.
On July 11, the day after the All-Star game, life in the area returned to its normally slow pace. It was similar to the feeling one has after returning from a long tropical vacation and must then come back to his or her “real world.” Specifically for me, I have almost experienced what one might call a slightly depressed state.
And so have the Kansas City Royals.
At the time of the season when Royals fans have become accustomed to a meaningless surge of good play, the team has gone into the tank—or further into the tank.
The Royals began the 2012 MLB campaign with the hope of at least flirting with a .500 year and, best-case scenario, maybe things would fall in such a way as to allow the Royals to even compete for the American League Central title.
The organization has long been regarded as one of the strongest (if not the strongest) collection of star prospects in the game. Names like Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery, Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy, John Lamb, Wil Myers, and so on, have been drilled into our heads for a couple of years now. There is still a great deal of optimism that this batch of prospects will bring a postseason berth to Kansas City for the first time in years.
Unfortunately, the “wait ‘til next year” mentality continues, and frankly, unless the team turns things around quickly, next year is not looking all that great either.
Nearly everyone expected the Royals to begin the second half on a high note with a 10-game homestand against the White Sox, Mariners and Twins. While the Royals pitching is far from good, and perhaps far from average, they expected to at least hold the feeble offenses of Seattle and Minnesota in check.
To say that did not occur would be an understatement.
After dropping yet another series in Anaheim and the first of four in Seattle, the Royals stand 4-10 since the All-Star break, and many believe they are playing their worst baseball of the year, including the record-breaking 12 game losing streak they endured near the beginning of the season.
The pitching, as most expected, has been an enormous sore spot for this 2012 Royals team, and things have gotten worse rather than better.
One can point to season-ending injuries to starters Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino as an excuse, but the fact remains that the Royals have been unable to find anyone to assume the role of stopper, resulting in long stretches of losing baseball games.
Even with Duffy and Paulino returning in 2013, the outlook for the Kansas City rotation remains extremely negative. The acquisition of a career 50-75 starter (Jeremy Guthrie) does not provide much of a boost to the rotation.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side, some of the youngsters (SS Alcides Escobar, 3B Mike Moustakas, and C Sal Perez) are performing at a high level, but 2011 phenom 1B Eric Hosmer seems to be struggling to recover from a dreadful start to the season.
Despite some positive performances, this offense simply is not producing runs.
The Royals currently are third in the AL in batting average, and third from the bottom of the league in runs scored. Their inability (read: unwillingness) to draw walks and poor situational hitting has cost this team dearly in terms of plating runs.
While the offense may rebound as these young position players progress at the plate, there is still an enormous need to bolster the starting pitching for the balance of this season and entering 2013.
Unfortunately, the Kansas City brass seems unwilling to make any moves to that end.
I am undecided on whether or not the Royals need to make a managerial change, but suffice it to say it would certainly be understandable. Ned Yost has had adequate opportunities to bring these young players along, but has not gotten the job done to this point.
Adding to that, his in-game management throughout this season has frequently straddled the line of questionable and awful.
Things might change quickly and the Royals, as they have been in the habit of doing, may put together a strong conclusion to this season. For now, though, the hopes of the Royals contending anytime soon remain optimistic at best. The right word might even be unrealistic.
Follow Mark on Twitter @EbbyCalvin37.